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Elite - Оригинал интервью с Дэвидом Брабеном о Elite 4


The man behind one of the best-loved space-sims of all time talks about his latest star project

16:22 Twenty years on, almost to the day, since the ground-breaking original emerged on the BBC Micro Computer — and nearly a decade since the most recent in the Elite series launched into deepest space — it somehow seems an apt time to be asking David Braben about a new Elite game.
We've asked him in the past, of course, many times, and the answer we've received has always been a curt: «Yes, we're making it, but it's still a long way off.» This time, as completion draws near on Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 (a game developed at Braben's Frontier Developments studio, see our preview here), Braben appears ready to tease back the curtain on this most secret and eagerly-awaited project.

"It's still a long way off..." he smiles unapologetically, «but you have to understand that I have high expectations for Elite IV. I don't want to release something that's rubbish to play. It's been such a long time since the last Elite that it has to be just right — and I'm more conscious of that than anyone.»

With the aforementioned Tycoon sequel to be peddled and marketed, Braben refuses to go into specifics on a game that's still at least two years from completion. He admits, however, that clues to its content have been littered among Frontier's back catalogue.


"There are certain things a game needs for it to be absolutely leading edge, and one of the key things in Elite IV is to be able to include people. But doing people properly is very, very difficult. No-one's done it properly or even approached it. And I don't just mean GTA people, where you club them and nick their car. I mean people you can interact with.

"So yes, we've had a lot of logical steps to work through to get to our ideal game. We need to be able to do naturalistic animations, we need to understand character interaction, and — as a parallel thread — we need to display vast numbers of people and to understand crowd dynamics."

Braben clearly feels he's nailed down many of the AI issues already, evident in watching the impressive crowd dynamics at work in RT3. Lifelike animation and character interaction — albeit canine — was a feature of last years PS2 curio A Dog's Life. However, the tools and rendering techniques behind these and his other games were first developed in 1996.

Braben has clearly been making plans for Elite IV for a very long time, and each game has been a technological stepping stone that, as he admits, «takes us closer to having all the tools we need to finish Elite.» But the question remains, where is Braben and his team in the development cycle today?

"We started development in 2000 — that was as a massively multiplayer game. But talking to people who could have been involved in it, I realised how little the Internet infrastructure was capable of — there were so many problems, I could see us taking a lot of flak. «What we've got now is a separate design for a game which is single-player and for small numbers of players, up to 16 or 32.

»We could still do a massively multiplayer game subsequently — we've got the design, it still works, it's extremely exciting and very different to what's out there now in many ways.

"But for what we're doing at the moment, we want to create something completely new. I know what it is we're going to do and I actually know how we're going to do it. That, I think, is extremely exciting."


Braben refuses to allow Elite IV to be pigeon-holed so early on, but it seems obvious that first- or third-person combat will be a key feature, as indeed will freewheeling space adventuring. Braben has also made it clear he wishes to replicate the accessibility of the first game with the detail of the two sequels.

But the biggest challenge for his Frontier team (one that Braben is clearly aware of) is in recreating a vast universe — one that will display all the colour and chaos of humankind, artificial or otherwise.

Braben simply wants to revolutionise games. Again.

Источник — Computer&VideoGames, 23 сентября 2004
a.k.a. Cesar
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Elite - Оригинал интервью с Дэвидом Брабеном о Elite 4
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